If fans aren’t already convinced that the new regime of Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot is going to be successful, then let me illustrate exactly why I think so.
First and foremost, it starts at the top with Arthur Blank and works down from there. Blank has taken a completely hands-off approach where Rich McKay will essentially run the team on his behalf and report to Blank. Of course, Smith and Fontenot will have an avenue to the owner, but for a vast majority of issues, it’ll go to McKay.
I'd like to remind folks that Rich McKay has little input in football operations, but is the "top dog" largely due to the fact that Arthur Blank has taken a large step back in the day-to-day running of the #Falcons over the past few years.
— Aaron Freeman (@falcfans) January 19, 2021
Arthur Blank confirms that both Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot will report directly to team president and CEO Rich McKay. He adds that both view that structure "as a plus."
— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) January 19, 2021
But McKay isn’t some dictator that’s going to shut trades down because he doesn’t like it. He will handle the business side of the Falcons and will lend his opinion when asked for by Fontenot or Smith. Fontenot will be responsible for personnel and not worry about the business side of the Falcons.
The reason why Blank hired Fontenot in the first place was that he and McKay’s vision for the team starts with conversation and debate on every topic. Obviously, they don’t want altercations, but a productive conversation of different points of view. It will be a total collaboration. That is exactly what Fontenot wants and was Uncle Arthur’s #1 choice.
Smith was chosen based on the similar defining qualities, that he wanted collaboration at every level. He wants it between himself and Fontenot, but also collaboration among his coaching staff. Uncle Arthur’s first choice was also Smith. To make it even better, Fontenot and Smith share the same exact vision of collaborating to improve. They both took an interest in each other even before either was hired, they were actually each others’ first choice.
Blank, McKay, Fontenot, and Smith are all on the same page of collaborating on everything that needs it. Blank will lend an ear to any of the other three; McKay will lend an ear to his subordinate, while Smith and Fontenot will collaborate on everything from personnel to gameplans.
That might seem like a strange relationship to have between a general manager and head coach, but it is nothing new. Fontenot worked directly with Sean Payton on a weekly basis scouting and developing gameplans for opponents. With Fontenot communicating so frequently with Smith on what Atlanta’s weaknesses and strengths are, he should know exactly the personnel his head coach and defensive coordinator need to be successful.
They both have the same core values, which go a long way — the bedrock of any strong foundation. They both despise groupthink and desire a collaborative environment where no idea is a bad one. The men both have a desire to build this team from the ground up, competing next season in 2021 but not at the cost of 2022 and beyond. Doing so by hitting on not only the big-name free agents but also the smaller lesser-known ones. By not only hitting on the first-round picks, but the middle and late-round picks too. These two men are gems. The vast knowledge of McKay being available for whatever either man needs is simply a cherry on top.